David Hankins is an eccentric teen who is experiencing, overwhelming, obstacles that have stolen his entire youth and are now literally consuming his life.
Not just the typical obstacles that such eccentricity poses, obstacles that have been grossly placed on David by the discriminatory practices by The New York Department of Education (DOE). David’s pro-se parents have been persisting to obtain accountability for years and are now turning to more drastic means to have David’s voice finally heard.
David’s pro-se parents have brought their story to Bronx.com, seeking exposure as they prepare to form a legal protest outside the locations of the District 12 Superintendent’s Office, as well as, Committee of Special Education 2 Office, both located here in the Bronx. David’s parents are currently reaching out to their local elected politicians, interested personalities and their community to gain the support they need to help David to be heard and to see results. Mr. & Mrs. Hankins’ claims stem back years, of which include serious accusations against several DOE employees, including abuse and retaliation. All of which David’s parents additionally claim to have documented and audio recorded evidence to fully support.
David is an extremely bright, talented and wonderful individual who unfortunately is also highly misunderstood. David, as with many of his family members, was born with Tourette’s syndrome (TS). David’s father is also a sufferer of TS who was given a misdiagnosis when he was a child. Living with TS was already challenging for David and then a series of unacceptable events began to ensue.
David’s overwhelming ordeal began during the 2007/2008 school year. Although at such time David had already experienced the harsh realities that living with TS pose, his parents described him as a happy, eager kid with lots of life and hope for better tomorrows. After a rough start entering school for the first time as a child with TS, yet never evaluated or classified, David spent several months out of school waiting for an opportunity for placement at an appropriate school to meet his needs. It was determined that such setting was a state approved private special needs school. David’s parents remember how he was so happy when he finally was accepted to The Hallen School, his first real school experience, as the public school he started at send him home almost every day.
After attending The Hallen School for approximately three months, David arrived home from school with a concerning bruise on his arm. David’s parents described the bruise as very visible and resembling fingers from a hand. Concerned and wanting to address the issue with the school, without exposing David’s arm to present the bruise, David’s parents took a picture of the bruise to present their concerns at the school. The school became very defensive and claimed that David caused the bruise, as he was aggressive and needed to be restrained from hurting himself or others. But David wasn’t aggressive according to his parents and they had never been informed of any incidents of such nature to confirm such.
The Hankins were also new to the whole special education system at that time and needed to become familiar with the regulations and laws pertaining to such. Fact was, that even if David had been aggressive, the school had many obligations to fulfill to address the behaviors that they were, suddenly, after the photo of David’s bruises was presented to the school, claiming David was demonstrating. The school did none of that. Instead, when David’s parents showed the photo, the school responded with a recommendation stating that they no longer feel that the school can meet David’s needs, labeling David as needing a more structured, smaller class setting.
It was clear to David’s parents at that point that the school’s only priority and concern was concentrated on justifying the school’s position regarding the photo. David’s parents were determined to preserve David’s rights, clarify accuracies and address the accusation the school started to make regarding David’s behavior. David’s parents persisted in efforts to force the school to fulfill their obligation regarding his behaviors. David’s parents started scrutinizing and probing the school for answers, which turned into a battle between the school and the Hankins lasting years, until he was bullied out of the school in 2011, as his parents explained that David’s safety was at risk while he was at the school due to acts of retaliation. David’s parents possess the audio recording that captured his last school day at The Hallen School, a day that David was sent to school wearing a recording device. The audio speaks for itself.
Throughout the nearly four years that David was at The Hallen School, the scrutiny, probing, complaining and audio recording that the Hankins engaged to persist with, in efforts of advocating for David, resulted in many disturbing discoveries. Gross acts of pure discrimination, retaliation and forms of abuse/neglect were detected, documented, recorded and persistently complained about by the Hankins. Some of the most disturbing of such gross acts include;
• Neglect and Abuse (The school is responsible for several forms of neglect and abuse, including verbal, mental & physical abuse and educational neglect)
• Broken Foot (David was sent home in a cab with a broken foot)
• ER (David was sent to the ER when he suffered an anxiety attack after being confronted by six police officers during a manifested state)
• Excess use of weighed jacket (without prior notice provided to parents or parental consent)
• ACS (False reports were filed by the school to child protective services against them)
• Profiling/labeling (the school manipulated truths/documents to deliberately stigmatize David)
Such individuals that have been named and complained about as participants of these gross practices include;
• Director- Dr. Priscilla Feir
• Principal- Ms. Stephanie Dalby
• Principal- Ms. Stephanie Smith
• Special Ed Teacher- Ms. Kim Bartolomucci
• Special Ed Teacher- Ms Donna Gentile
• Special Ed Teacher- Ms. Gowandan (suspiciously never provided her name)
• Special Ed Para- Ms. Monic Brickle
• Special Ed Para- Ms. Doreen Word Hadely
• Hall/Bus Monitor- Mr. Greg (Fuzzy) Thomas
• Speech Counselor- Ms. Mara Sime
• Counselor- Ms. Sarah Coakly
• OT Therapist- Ms. Patricia Sadownick
• Gym Teacher- Mr. Jordan Carlisi
• Bus/Hall Monitor- Mr. Jeffery Ross
After leaving The Hallen School, David spent nearly two years waiting for a new placement. First the rough start in public school, a year out of school waiting for placement, then the Hallen horror and now another two years out of school. This had a major impact on David as he started to become discouraged and feel rejected, confused, like he was the problem and just not accepted. David cried so much as he begged to be allowed to go back to school. He would sit and watch all the other kids board their buses and go to school each morning. David would constantly ask why the bus was forgetting him. It was literally heart breaking. David’s parents grew desperate as they watched him slip through the cracks and become growingly depressed. The DOE wasn’t doing anything to assist David, so the Hankins took things into their own hands to locate a new school on their own. Due to the manipulated profile that David was smeared with, that the Hankins were persisting to address, almost every school rejected David. Then they found one school willing to accept him, The Life Skills School (LSS).
Although upon visiting the school David’s parents weren’t completely comfortable with the impression/presentation, he was quickly losing his childhood years and educational opportunity/growth. Due to pure desperation, the Hankins accepted the offer and placed David in LSS.
David spent a little over a year in LSS, yet it was clearly the most damaging school experience he was forced to endure. David was getting older, wiser and much more understanding of the situation. As a result of his constant ordeals relating to school, David is now becoming resentful, resistant and lost trust in almost everything and everybody. He believed no one cares (which has become his new catch phrase), as he now started not to care either. The LSS experience was so bad it is hard for the Hankins to constantly re-live such horror, as they must retell it over and over in efforts to be heard.
Things went bad quick at LSS. After the Hallen horror, David’s parents learned a lot about the special education regulations, laws and general and/or common practice. They became very visible and involved at the school in efforts to keep an eye on things. The Hankins were extremely skeptical after everything David had already experienced. Also, these private schools were hours away from the Hankins’ residence and difficult to get to in an emergency. As a result, Mrs. Hankins stopped working all together to be available, as she explained how she had previously been accused of being unfit/neglectful, when she was at work and unable to reach David quickly when he fell ill at Hallen. Mrs. Hankins didn’t drive, worked in Brooklyn and the school was in New Rochelle. Like Hallen, LSS was also a long distance away.
Not even a month in, David started to show signs of fatigue and reason for concern. He was being excluded from most activities and events, punished frequently and said to be very antsy. His new teacher stated that she needed to find where David academically was, and transition would take time. David’s parents explained that David had been out of school for extended periods after going through extreme circumstances, including abuse and neglect. They offered their assistance in any way possible to help David transition. However, their presence was not suggested. In fact, the school felt that David’s parents needed to separate themselves from being so available. That felt wrong to the Hankins and uncomfortable. However, they tried to comply with the school suggestions.
The Hankins didn’t notice any changes for the better. In fact, David’s parents became more concerned when David came home with a teacher’s note explaining how David was not permitted to go back to school unless David did all his work. That is when everything escalated. Again, David’s parents found themselves scrutinizing and probing, as the school started the same practices as The Hallen School did, yet worse. David was tortured daily in darken seclusion, denied food, physically restrained, brought to extreme manifested states, then punished harshly for such. David was a complete bundle of stress. The Hankins were furious that David was placed in such situations and they demanded answers, accountability and immediate attention regarding the serious concerns. Another battle ensued between the school, DOE and the Hankins. This time the Hankins explained that they knew the ropes and were unwilling to back down. Once a happy kid that wanted nothing more than to go to school, learn and socialize; now David’s parents described him as a shell of a child, scared, unsure, rejected, depressed and suffering. No learning for David. Throughout the years he spent in school he barely was given any actual educational instruction/academics. David only was learning to fight the restraints and abuse. More disgusting is that when he did the school described him as the danger.
Things got so escalated at LSS where David was again taken out of school for safety reasons. David’s parents grew even more persisting until the DOE and LSS would respond. David’s parents were connected with the school’s director who was supposed to rectify the situation as much as possible. Reluctant to hold true anything that the school or DOE said at this point, the Hankins still tried to be cooperative, to no avail. Months of meetings, compromises and complaints proved unsuccessful. There was such retaliation from the staff that at one point the school staff even made repeated physical attacks on Mrs. Hankins. The recording device was again placed on David and the school closed down shortly after the Hankins initiated a floodgate of complaints/investigations in relation to the captured footage and voluminous amounts of additional evidence they obtained throughout the duration of David’s overwhelming ordeals. That was in August 2014. David still remains home, with no school, no home provisions or related services. David was blackballed and completely displaced. No school will accept him now with the profile that the schools/DOE have labeled him with. All in retaliation for the battle that David’s parents are still persisting to fight. David has literally been forgotten about, the first child out of LSS and the only child left without a new placement when the school closed. David suffered the retaliation that resulted in exposing the truths about the school, of which closed the school down, saving all the school’s students from further mistreatment by such practices. However, all those other children are now happy in new schools, except poor David.
The Hankins have expressed how before LSS closed the principal directly stated to them, “David will never be accepted into another school.”
As with the Hallen horror, the Hankins made many disturbing discoveries through their constant persistence, scrutiny and probing of LSS. In the short time that David attended LSS, the Hankins detected horrifying levels of inappropriateness. Such levels, it made the Hallen experience seem minimal. Some of those inappropriate practices include, but are not limited to;
• Police involvement without parental notification
• Depriving the students food
• Misuse of student funds
• Forced religion
• Rights violations
Such individuals that have been named and complained about as participants of these inappropriate practices include;
• Owner- Mr. Robert Singer
• Owner- Mr. Howard Greenwald
• Director- Ms. Barbara Hendricks
• LSS Coordinator- Ms. Julie Diaz
• Principal- Mr. Larry Williams
• Special Ed Teacher- Ms. Latishia P Williams
• Unknown position- Mr. Larry Williams Jr.
• Special Ed Teacher- Mr. Robert Salisbury
• Special Ed Teacher- Ms. Bielka Gallegos
• Assistant teacher- Ms. Jennifer Marroquin
• Unknown position- Mr. Chris Stanley
• Special Ed Para- Ms. Margarita Torres
• Special Ed Para- Ms. Flavia Perez
• Counselor- Dr. Bijan Rabenou
• OT Therapist- Mr. Victor Cotto
• OT Supervisor- Ms. Ahilya Khwalsingh
• Pre-School OT Therapist- Ms. Marisol Rosario
• Nurse- Ms. Puala Santaro
• Office of Pupil Transportation Personnel- Mr. Wayne Moser
• Office of Pupil Transportation Personnel- Ms. Jacqueline Marroquin
• Office of Pupil Transportation Personnel- Ms. Hilda Ramos
• Office of Pupil Transportation Personnel- Ms. Liv Budhu
• 97-30 Queens Blvd., Rego Pk, NY 11347 Building Janitor – Mr. Hector Blanco
In addition there are multiple DOE workers from district, impartial hearing and superintendent offices that also are named as conspirers and accused of inappropriate practices, including discrimination and retaliation;
• Dist 12 Superintendent- Ms. Rafeala Espinal Pacheco
• Dist 12 Superintendent’s Counsel- Mr. Jeffrey Hunter Gamils Esq.
• Dist 75 Superintendent- Mr. Gary Hecht
• CSE2 Chairperson- Ms. Michelle Beatty
• CSE2 Chairperson- Ms. Tricia Devito
• CSE3 Chairperson- Ms.Esther Morell
• Dist 3 School Psychologist- Ms. Lisa Garger
• Dist 2 School Psychologist- Ms. Mary Yarnall
• Dist 2 School Psychologist- Dr. Linda Lope
• Dist 2 School Psychologist- Mr. Mark Parent
• Impartial Hearing Officer- Ms. Barbara Ebenstein Esq.
• Impartial Hearing Officer-Ms. Mary Noe Esq.
• Impartial Hearing Case Manager- Ms. Dalma Martinez
• Impartial Hearing Supervisor- Ms. Stacy Reeves Esq.
• CSE3 Legal Representative- Ms. Emily Minarcik Esq.
• Central Base Support Team (CBST)- Ms. Dalila Agront Zapata
Furthermore, the Hankins have provided concrete evidence that supports their claims. Some of which has been Published online for the public to view. You can find the posted evidence along with additional information pertaining to the Hankins contact information for donations and support in efforts of their forming protest at help4david.com. The Hankins are remaining hopeful that exposing David’s story will gain donations and support to provide David with the right type of representation and services to get him back to school and give him a chance to regain his sense of self-worth and his love for learning.
David is now 13 years old and spends much time by himself and his family. David takes comfort in the simple things now like his love for animals and hobbies. His only friends are the local kids he gets to interact with at the park, along with the ducks/geese he befriended and feeds frequently there. David’s mother spends countless hours crying these days as she sees him diminishing slowly. He has so much to offer and is such a kind heart. The overwhelming ordeal that David is suffering continues to turn the Hankins family upside down.
The Hankins family talks about what used to be before that unsuspecting fall day when David came home from school with the bruise, the day that changed David’s and their lives forever. David was an eager jokester who thrived to go to school each day to learn. Both David’s parents were long time volunteers for the DOE and formed careers around their love to give back to their community. Mr. Hankins engaged in work, lively and fully focused on his future endeavors, despite his disabilities. Mrs. Hankins was sharing her creativities, happy, healthy and employed.
David’s siblings are both somewhat older than him. He has a brother who is a US Army Vet and a sister who has recently moved from home to pursue her own future as a graphic artist. David dreams of the chance for such opportunities as his siblings. He also has something great to offer the world, having only given a chance.
David’s parents explain how they tried every form of grievance, mediation, complaint, resolution and/or hearing to address their issues. The level of inside conspiracy is unconceivable. The Hankins have had an unprecedented number of recusals from hearing officers, cancelations and refusals to participate from the DOE. The Hankins are convinced that there is no fairness when the DOE police themselves and conduct their own investigations. One investigation unit even was so bold/blatant to say, in so many words, “Even though your claims are substantiated, ALL CLAIMS ARE NOT INVESTIGATED.”